China’s Education System – A Brief Introduction

Posted on November 26, 2016

xiaoxueEducation system in China can be divided into following major categories,

  • Primary school
  • Junior Middle school
  • High school
  • University/College

It is compulsory for each child to take 9 years of education by law which includes education from primary school (six years) to junior secondary (three years). Mandarin Chinese (aka ‘putonghua’) is the
official language and used as the medium of instruction in schools from kindergarten to higher education.

Primary  Education (小学 xiao xue – 6 years)

Primary education is a six year course, the usual age of school entrance being 7 years old.  Courses taught include geography, mathematics, Chinese; etc. There is also a certain level of elementary political and moral education. A strong emphasis is also placed on Physical Education.

Junior Middle School (初中 chu zhong – 3 years)

Junior Middle school (junior high) is really a continuation of the primary system, with students studying the same core subjects at higher levels. Again there is an emphasis on sports and physical education, alongside moral and political education. At the end of the three years, all pupils take an examination, which for successful students leads to senior middle school or vocational school. These examinations are considered to be very important as the pass level determines the quality of senior or vocational school into which the students may be accepted.

Senior Middle School (高中 gao zhong – 3 years)

In Senior Middle school, students elect whether to follow science or humanities curricula. These courses are designed to lead to the important National College Entrance Exams. Again sport and political education are part of the curriculum.

Higher Education

daxueWhatever type of higher education students wish to undertake, they must first take the National College E ntrance Exam. This is held in early July and there are separate exams for science and humanities candid ates. University and College admission is administered nationally and by admissions committees at provincial level, under the Ministry of Education. Students apply for the institution and departments they wish to attend, listing choices in order of preference. Admission is decided mainly on the results of the entrance exams, but can also include an investigation into the candidates’ “social behavior and moral character.”

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